2023 in review
and a peek at 2024
Wow, where did 2023 go? I don’t know about you, but 2023 has been a “get the work done” year for me. So, I’ll finish it off with a bit of navel-gazing.
Ryan Holiday likes to pick a word to live by for the year. Last year, his word was less. I love this idea, and last year, my word was commitment. I stuck to my New Year’s resolutions and newer commitments like this newsletter. I attribute this to the approach I outlined in my popular post this year: The bigger the interface, the weaker the abstraction. Breaking my commitments down to the atomic unit of what I want to do to accomplish them helped me focus on what is most important for success. That being said, it wasn’t all roses. So, I thought I’d take this time to outline the highlights and lowlights for my year, as well as a peek into my goals for 2024.
Job: I started a new job in July, and it’s been… wonderful. I feel fortunate to work on interesting problems daily with a smart group of folks. It's been challenging and a lot of fun. Of course, there is always some bullshit to deal with, but I’m looking forward to what we’ll be working on in 2024.
School: I cranked through five of my ten courses for my master’s in computer science at Georgia Tech while working full-time. Picking up the momentum felt intense, but I’ll wrap this program up with a single class in the Spring. I’ve leveled up my time management skills in the process. There is so much you can get done each day with deliberate focus. As much as I’ve improved, I know there is still more room for mindfulness.
Writing: I stuck to my writing commitment. I have written 35 weekly posts this year since committing back in May to post every Friday or donate to the Flat Earth Society. It’s been a rewarding experience and a habit I can keep indefinitely. I recently bought some books on storytelling, so I hope to improve my writing structure in 2024. We’ll see.
Resolutions: I made two New Year’s Resolutions this year and stuck to them.
Prioritize Sleep - I banished my alarm clock in 2023. I stopped attending 5:30 AM group workouts and instead focused on getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. I had to adjust my fitness schedule, but the plan paid dividends. I am convinced that sleep is the most important gift we can give ourselves daily.
No Drinking - I initially set a six-month goal to take a drinking hiatus but decided to extend it to one year. Between prioritizing sleep and choosing not to drink for a year, I’ve noticed a baseline improvement in my health and well-being. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again, but these two habits will stick around into 2024.
Coaching: I worked with the fantastic coach Lorilyn McCue this year. She greatly impacted me, and I feel equipped with a better toolset for bringing my best self to situations more often.
Family: My wife, daughter, and I have had a fun year together. I somehow balanced work and school to honor my time with them. I think our little daily rituals (like always eating breakfast and dinner together as a family) have been a bedrock of my daily habits for years but seemed to have shined in 2023.
SXSW Submission: I worked hard on a rejected Panel Picker Submission. I don’t regret doing it, and I met some incredible people along the way, but it is still a bummer.
Strength Training: I deprioritized max-lift barbell strength training this year and miss being as strong as I was. I’ve been much better over the last few months, but 2023 hasn’t been my strongest year in this area.
Fat Loss: I’ve struggled with yo-yo-ing around being overweight since I was a kid. Some years are better than others. While I have lost weight this year (proper sleep and not drinking do wonders for that), it’s been a combination of muscle and fat loss, and I know I could be more mindful in this area of my life.
software projects: I always have some personal software projects I work on in my spare time, but this year, they’ve taken the back burner. I enjoy working through them, but they get shoved to the bottom of the priority queue when other things arise.
distractions: I find it easy to over-consume content online. Whether it is YouTube, podcasts, audiobooks, blogs, or news aggregators. If I’m not careful, my default is to consume content. I know that I could be more mindful in this area.
A Peek into 2024
My word for 2024 is mindfulness. I aim to live more deliberately in my actions, especially in areas I can over-consume (food and distractions).
As part of this, I’ve added two daily habits to my life that I’m committing to for 2024. I’ve already started these on Christmas day and stuck to it. When I wake up, before looking at any screens, I perform two actions:
Zazen meditation for 15 minutes (I hope to expand this as this practice continues)
Daily journaling - A small journal entry in the morning about the day before and any random thoughts I might want to explore.
That’s it. I’m sure I’ll experiment with other commitments over the year, but I started with two last year, and two seem like a great starting point for me.
I’m a big believer in intention setting, and if you haven’t already, I’d recommend giving it a try. I’ll leave you with two final questions:
What is your word for the year?
What two daily habits could you introduce that might help you succeed in living up to your word of intention?